A friend recently suggested that we sign up for a class offered by a new cooking school in Neuchâtel, Les Laboratoires Culinaires. The topic? Learning how to make a Bûche de Noël (a.k.a., yule log) sans gluten and sans lactose. Our instructor? The talented Chef Anita Lalubie, known for her work on the popular Suisse Romande television program about cooking, al dente. I had always wanted to make a Bûche de Noël, so I gladly enrolled in the class.
If you are interested in taking a cooking class in Switzerland, here’s a quick summary of my experience at Les Laboratoires Culinaires, along with a list of other Swiss cooking schools that you might consider.
Les Laboratoires Culinaires: A New Cooking School in Neuchâtel
Started by two friends who love to cook, Les Laboratoires Culinaires just opened this fall with their first class on Halloween night—Bouche à bûche par Anita Lalubie (cost, CHF 159). I was thrilled to be there, but honestly felt a bit nervous when I arrived. Cooking by myself at home is one thing. Cooking in front of others and revealing my culinary inadequacies is something else!
Once I arrived at the professional kitchen at the OKA meeting room, however, and introduced myself to Inga and Laetitia—the co-founders of Les Laboratoires Culinaires—I felt much more at ease. They started this école de cuisine, in part, to feed their own passion for cooking, and one of their goals is to help connect culinary enthusiasts with great chefs. For example, Chef Stéphane Décotterd of the 2-Michelin star restaurant Le Pont d Brent, taught a course earlier this month about preparing a “Menu du fêtes.” The courses are taught in French and designed for a range of abilities. You will also find cooking workshops for children and courses for beginners—like the “I Kiss Better Than I Cook” series, as well as courses for skilled home cooks.
The course I signed up for took place in the evening, like most of their courses, and it lasted for three hours. I wondered how they could keep us engaged for that length of time, but I was so busy cooking that I didn’t check my watch until everything was nearly finished. Chef Lalubie was very warm and friendly, and she supported us throughout the class when we had questions or needed some extra help. I also enjoyed meeting the other participants in the class, and we worked well together as a team to prepare the different phases of the recipe.
In the end, our two groups within the class made two Bûche de Noël that both used a chocolate fondant base, a diced apple filling and meringue topping—except one had crème de citron and the other had mousseline de marrons (chestnut mousse). Both were delicious—sweet, delicate and with nice flavor combinations—but the chestnut and chocolate one was my favorite. I left with copies of both recipes and look forward to making them for my family at Christmas!
Les Laboratoires Culinaires, OKA meeting room, 5, av. de Bellevaux, Neuchâtel, courses starting at CHF 129.
Cooking Schools in Switzerland: For Beginners and Amateurs
Want to brush up on your culinary skills before the holiday season? Or, maybe a gift certificate for a class like the one I attended at Les Laboratoires Culinaires would make a good present for someone? If so, here’s a list of cooking schools in Switzerland you can choose from, depending on your location, interests and language preferences. Many of these have a regular schedule of courses, and/or you can organize private workshops or team-building activities for varying numbers of participants. You can follow the links below to contact the schools directly for more information.
- Atelier Cuisine (Vevey)
- Cucina con Charlie (Pianezzo)
- La Cucina degli Ulivi (Massagno)
- La Cuisine Kochschule (Zurich)
- Ecole-club Migros (various locations throughout Switzerland)
- Hiltl Akademie (Zurich) – The world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant also has a culinary school.
- Hôtel Beau Rivage (Geneva) – While not a traditional cooking school, you can arrange a cooking class for between 2-8 people with Chef Dominique Gauthier at this 5-star hotel.
- Katrépices (Geneva)
- Les Laboratoires Culinaires (Neuchâtel) – See my description above for more information.
- Laughing Lemon (Zurich) – This cooking school opened in 2004 and offers all of its courses in English.
- Miso Cute (Wädenswil and Binz)
- Les Papilles à la Fête (Nyon)
- Swiss Smart Cook (Nyon)
- Wiine.me (various locations) – Based in Geneva, Wiine.me also offers wine and cooking courses and other events in Basel, Luzern and Zurich.
Have you taken a cooking class in Switzerland recently? Where did you go, and how was it? If there’s a cooking school you think should be added to my list, please leave a comment below or send me an email. Thanks!